Time Transcendence Performance Conference

The “Time.Transcendence.Performance” conference was held at Monash University in Melbourne from 1 – 3 October.  The event attracted a diverse collection of artists and researchers with interests extending to a range of artistic, philosophical, performative and lived experiences.  It always feels like a great privilege to hear people share their work at an event like this, and to be surrounded by so much enthusiastic discussion beforehand and afterward.

I presented a paper on the experience of flow, or being in the zone, during mountain bike racing and discussed the ways riders maintain an awareness of time during these states.  An obvious thing for mountain bikers perhaps, but this work challenges theoretical ideas about people getting “lost in the moment” to the point where reflective practices aren’t possible during these states.  I would be interested in hearing people’s thoughts about the subject in relation to mountain bike racing as well as other sports.  The abstract is below.

The Feel of Five Minutes

Kath Bicknell


Athletes grapple to accurately understand time in relation to a complex, interanimating matrix of variables: fitness, technologies, landscape, skill and, critically, their experience of states of flow. As fitness and skill improves, the experience of flow alters to create a sense of mastery of the sport. At the same time, the euphoria and adrenalin produced through the experience remain consistent, despite fluctuating levels of competence and more advanced states of flow, potentially yielding a false sense of speed and performance in relation to one’s competitors. Competitors need to develop strategies to balance these divergent modes of experience.


Using the example of mountain bike racing, this presentation questions the human perception of time in relation to competition, flow and skillful, risky performance. Developing Drew Leder’s concepts of dysfunction and incorporation alongside John Hockey’s sensory analysis of sport, I will investigate the ways in which a rider develops skill and fitness in relation to the temporo-geographic characteristics of a target event. This will demonstrate the way that athletes develop a bodily knowledge of time and pace which is carefully matched with visual and auditory cues.